TIDE is working on the front line of conservation by using the new intelligence-based Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool or 'SMART'. The spatial monitoring tool is being trialed in Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR) to increase the efficiency of enforcement in the reserve and decrease illegal fishing.
TIDE collects data on both manatee grass (Syringodium filiforme) and turtle grass (Thalassia testudinum) in Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR) by carrying out both diving and snorkelling surveys. Seagrasses are underwater plants that often grow in vast meadows. They are integral to ecosystems as they provide nurseries, shelter, and a food source for a variety of species such as fish, sea turtles, dugong, manatee, seahorses and crustaceans. Additionally, seagrasses filter waters of sediments, nutrients, and pollutants.
Freshwater and Marine water quality research is carried out by TIDE at 48 sites within Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR), Monkey River and Rio Grande in order to understand the health of water systems between the land and sea in the Maya Mountain Marine Corridor (MMMC).
TIDE is working in partnership with The Belize Fisheries Department (BFD), Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Belizean fishers, to explore Managed Access as a fisheries management policy for Belize. Managed Access works by limiting access to General Use Zones within marine reserves by using a licensing system to allow only “traditional fishermen” to fish commercially in the reserve.
TIDE surveys coral reef habitats in Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR) to continually assess the health of the ecosystem by monitoring the effects of nutrient and sediment loading on corals from riverine pollution by monitoring changes in macroalgal cover. Fish biodiversity is also monitored to assess the effectiveness of implementation of fisheries regulations. Surveys are conducted using the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef Survey (MBRS) protocol with some components of the Atlantic and Gulf RAGRRA annexed to make outputs compatible with data collected in other regions by other organisations in either format. Results are contributed to the Healthy Reefs Initiative Annual Report Card. Each area assessed is given a rating from very good to critical in the Report Card.
TIDE began a habitat-mapping project in Port Honduras Marine Reserve in 2013.
Information from this project will allow us to visualize, question, analyse, and interpret data to understand patterns and trends in the reserve. Using this information we can make accurate estimations of commercial species populations and improve fisheries management.
TIDE's first Ridge to Reef expedition group had the incredible experience of tagging a critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle on 23rd August 2014! TIDE of HOPE will provide important migration data for sea turtles that nest in the Port Honduras Marine Reserve and will enable us to highlight the importance of the coastal beaches and foraging areas for endangered sea turtles.
Regular monitoring of Queen conch, Caribbean spiny lobster and ‘Donkey Dung’ sea cucumber is carried out collectively under the Commercial Benthic Species monitoring program. Due to indications of possible overharvesting in recent years in PHMR, the on-going monitoring aims to determine stock levels of commercial benthic species and inform sustainable catch quotas.
The Goliath grouper study is being carried out by Science Director, James Foley, and Research Assistant, Marty Alvarez, to determine the current status of Goliath groupers in Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR), Toledo. Catch data from 2014 was compared with studies conducted by Rachel Graham in 2007-2010 to determine impacts of fishing on Goliath grouper population dynamics, and to inform national policy on this IUCN-listed Critically Endangered species.
Dolphin research in Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR) has been carried out to establish baseline information on the populations present in the reserve.